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Nebraska bishops' opposition to health care bill based on abortion-funding language

Nebraska's three Catholic bishops - Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln and Bishop William Dendinger of Grand Island - went on record Dec. 20 in opposition to the current U.S. Senate health care bill citing the bill's language regarding abortion funding.

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson accepted the language in weekend negotiations with Democratic Party leadership.

"We are extremely disappointed in Sen. Ben Nelson's decision to accept language in the Senate health care bill that would expand the federal government's role of enabling abortions and force citizens to pay for others' abortions," the bishops said. "We urge him to reconsider this decision and to insist on language that mirrors the provisions adopted by the House of Representatives in the Stupak-Pitts Amendment."

Despite published assurances he would insist on abortion-funding language in line with longstanding federal policies, the bishops said Nelson accepted an amendment that "fails to fulfill these assurances."

"We remain strong proponents of health care reform that protects human life and conscience rights, is fair to legal immigrants and improves affordability," the bishops said. "However, given its serious problems with abortion funding, this Senate bill should be opposed."

A 60-40 vote early Dec. 21 ends any threat of a Republican filibuster, and sets the stage for additional votes on the health care measure.

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